Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Steal of a Deal!

Oh, I do love finding horsey things on sale. Something about not paying full price makes the purchase all the sweeter... But maybe that's just me. Today's blog is simply a brag about my two awesome purchases.
Purchase 1: From Ebay... A 'vintage' pair of Dehner boots that just about fit me like a glove (I know, I tried them on as soon as I saw them). I took the chance on bidding on them sight unseen, especially since  know just how unforgiving my Dehner's are... But at $60, It's worth the chance. I mean, $60 is close to a 90% discount from new, off the shelf Dehners, and 94% discount from my customs. With the imminent demise of my poor Petri's, new schooling boots were n my six month 'to buy' plan anyway, so this is perfect!
Yes, they are old.
Yes they are brown (just imagine how cute they will be on Tilly!).
Yes, I'll need to put a gusset in the back of the calf.
I'm still super excited about them!

And Purchase #2: I found and ad for 10 arena mirrors on Craigslist for $100 if I would take them all. And I did. Downside is that they were quite a ways away, but we can all use a road trip to escape the UP winter every now and again. Plus side is that the seller actually had 14 mirrors, not 10, so that's 40% free! Now I'm half way to having my 'real' outdoor arena. I'll need to corral a few volunteers to help me put them up... but no sweat!

Now, of course the poodles accompanied me on my road trip to get the mirrors and I made them pose for pictures
Posing by the Bridge and Lake Huron

It's a light house!

The wind off of Lake Superior is COLD!

Is there anything colder than whitecaps on Lake Superior?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2/3's Ain't Bad

OK, so I've had wonderful rides this week, albeit mostly at the walk.

Tilly has turned a corner and is really starting to use her back at the trot and offering a much more controlled canter. Gone are the days of her legs spinning in little cartoon circles to get to the canter (whew!). Now we are still working on balance, especially when turning; I wish I could take her outside somewhere and let her canter big long lines... but that'll have to wait til spring. She's still a pretty brave little pony, only offering little spooks when a door slams shut or the wind blows snow against the arena and it sounds like someone is sandblasting outside. So that's one.

RC and I worked on getting his neck down at the walk and trot-walk transitions. He's slowly started bracing his underneck and bringing his neck very upright (odd for a QH, isn't it) in the downward transitions. While it looks like a fancy upper level horse to those who don't know (and UDBBers would be so proud, his poll is always the highest point), he's locking the base of his neck and dropping his back in the transitions so that nistead of feeling like all of his energy is flowing smoothly from gait to gait, it's like learning to drive a stick shift and possibly leaving the tranny on the road after a particularly bad gear change. BUT we had a great day of staying over the back with lots and lots of easy, correct transitions. That's two.

And Delight makes three.
I had a great ride on her as well; she was relaxed in the walk and trot, lifting her back and coming out through her neck in stead of curling, so why doesn't she get marked up as a success?
When trotting to the right, she's off. She's not lame when  lunge; both diagonal pairs are even and covering the same amount of ground, but she's bobbing her head every few strides. It's better when I give her the reins and don't drive her forward. It's gone when I free lunge her in the arena. Her legs are cool and firm, but she does have some soreness on her heels. Other than the occasional bob of her head, she's the same happy pony she's always been. Sigh.
Rolling in the snow is a new hobby....
"Got anything better?"

My very non professional opinion is that she catches her front heel with her inside hind when she's tracking to the right. To the left, she's easier to put into the shoulder fore, her inside hind already coming to the middle of her body, but to the right she wants to track very very straight. I suppose it's time to start booting her up... Dover, here I come!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do

There is a disturbing trend that I'm beginning to notice as my days as a boarder are drawing to a close (at a glacial pace)... My horses are the scapegoats.

Sure, I get it; I have three fit young horses. They do silly things, like flagging their tails over their backs and snorting in their best elephant impression when first turned out. RC might even take two or three trot steps before he hits the fence line and calls it quits in favor of more food. Delight will sling her head and play rear with the gelding across the fence (not RC. That guy's a jerk. The other gelding who won't overreact and squeal like a girl). Tilly will lead her pony herd at the break neck canter, leaping logs and snow banks until her morning hay is delivered. Silly young horse games, right?

Evidently not. Those nefarious ponies may look cute an innocent, when actually, they are contributing to the delinquency of everyone else!!! MWAHAHAHHA (evil grin, here)!

So what exactly is the problem, you ask?

RC has been accused of teaching another horse in the barn to rear under saddle. All of that frolicking that RC and Delight do three turnout pens away is rubbing off on Mr Wonderful*, which is simply ruining him for this coming show year**

Ahm, so lets examine the facts:

  • A horse in the barn has developed a bad habit.
  • My three horses have all been seen bucking under saddle. (Hey, dressage isn't perfect all the time!)
  • My horses have been seen rearing out in the turnouts.
  • My horses 'fight' through their bars at each other while waiting for dinner. Sometimes little rears are involved.
Given all of the above as facts, the only logical assumption is that RC has grown bored with teasing Delight every day and has moved on the try to teach Mr Wonderful how to misbehave under saddle. And here I've been telling everyone that RC is a little simple minded when he is, in fact, a diabolical genius!

* Mr Wonderful is not his real name. Mr Wonderful's true identity will remain a secret to keep him safe from any more nefarious plots hatched by my herd of brain-trusts.

** Obviously the only answer is that I'm teaching RC to teach Mr Wonderful to rear only to further my own show career and RULE THE WORLD!!!!!

Of course, I'm the first one to say that my horses aren't perfect. They are dorky, immature and entertaining as all get out. As a matter of fact, when let in the arena for a little "free time" after receiving their shots this weekend, RC proceeded to grab a cone, wander over to Delight and proceed to whap her in the butt with it until she out ran him. In less than half an hour, RC managed to redecorate the arena with barrels, jump standards, cones and noodles. Delight was not amused.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Yep. it's that time again. When the world seem full of people in love as I order my #3 from Taco Bell to go to share with my dogs... Couples in booths, couples in trucks (who voluntarily sits in the middle of a bench seat?), couples walking their huskies.... So I grabbed my taco's and giant vat of Mtn Dew and went home so that I could surround myself with poodles. It's still love, especially if I'm holding a cracker/cookie/taco...

How does a single girls in the UP celebrate valentines day?

One word: Cupcakes. 

Step 1: Make cupcakes out of the best buttery goodness recipe you can find online. Sampling the batter is encouraged for QA purposes... The poodles gave the unfrosted cupcakes two paws up. 

Step 2: Create pink frosting out of the best creme cheese frosting recipe that you can find online. Liberal taste testing is needed to ensure that it is nearly as sickeningly sweet as it looks.  Once the perfect pastel Valentines day pink is achieved, spoon frosting into the cookie press and mechanically frost the hell out of those cupcakes. This kind of awesome frosting ability is so much more fun with a ratchet system.
Step 3: Add those chalky candy hearts that you just couldn't stop yourself from buying. Who likes these? And why can't I stop eating them?!?! Bonus points if you match the colors and sayings of the hearts to make cute appealing little cupcakes. Who can resist a cupcake that says "Be Mine" and "Dare You"?

  Happy Valentines Day, folks! 
And who's going to help me eat two dozen of these little pink treats?
"Pick me!"
"Dude, dibs"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Meet 'N Greet

Due to having a life other than my three beautiful ponies, I ran out of time to ride all three the other day. I rode RC (who was a doll... not always a perfect doll, but still not half bad), then planned to free lunge Delight and Tilly, just to let them romp around somewhere where there isn't ice. I tend to feel a little bad for RC and Deli when I turn them out because they both take a few playful steps, slip then return to their hay. Only three more months, then they will be romping in my back field....

Anyway, since it was cold, and I'm the only one who's ever using the arena in the mornings, I had an idea. Inspiration. Genius, even.

Why not introduce Tilly to Delight in the arena? I mean, they haven't officially met, per se, and it's probably smart to get this phase done before I bring the herd home (RC will throw a wrench into smooth herd dynamics, but maybe I'll build him a separate pasture for his annoying days until Deli and Tilly work out the best ways to avoid him).  Neither mare is excessively pushy or bossy, They'll probably be fine.
And, for once, I was right.
"Who are you?"
There was a little squealing, a little pawing, but nothing dramatic. No biting or kicking. Neither mare was too upset.

There was then a little bit of pony playfulness, some synchronized running and bucking, a few play rears - and of course, my good camera chose to die right then, leaving me to take crappy phone pictures). Eventually both mares decided to have a nice roll and just stand there looking at me.
So I brought out the lunge whip to encourage them to move. And they lunged in a 20 m circle around me, together, at the walk trot and canter. Who says liberty training is hard?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Winter Blues

Not that I’m really blue or anything (other than a bit of drama, which I feel is probably better left off the internet), but my streak of 30 degree weather is drawing to a close, with the threat of single digit weather in my immediate future. So, today we’ll just enjoy some pictures, shall we?
Even though it was 5 degrees when I took this, no one can argue that a clear UP evening is a beautiful thing to behold. 

Bacon tries for majestic. In reality, he just lost the ball...

That's OK. Tempi found it!
Too close, Bacon! Too close!
This one is cute because you can see her little back feet up by her shoulders....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reclaiming the Queen!

Another non-personal post? Seriously?

Yeah, yeah I know. But this has been bothering me for quite some time now. More internet wanderings have made me want to reclaim being a Dressage Queen as a good, positive thing (do a quick search on “DQ’s” and you’ll see what I mean). Like all disciplines, there are some snobs out there in dressage... But I prefer to think of them as PITAs or Divas. Dressage has no bearing on bitchyness.  There are the people with more money than sense, and then there are people who have nice horses and have worked their size 26 behinds off to get it, and you know what? It can be hard to tell the difference between the two when both are wearing white and trotting down the centerline.  

So yes, I am a Dressage Queen and proud of it.

  • I have the nice tack. My saddles are fitted to my horses every year. My bridles are clean and oiled. My bits are name brand, clean and fit each horse correctly. I have leather halters for each horse…
  • I’ve got the get-up. I wear tall boots for nearly every ride. I match my saddle pad/breeches/shirt combo to flatter my horses and present a professional turnout. I even wear a belt while schooling. Why? Because it’s elegant and completes the picture.
  • I’ve got the right horses (except RC, that freak). I learned on a 17h Dutch Schoolmaster. My parents bought him for me to learn dressage, of course I looked like crap at my first few shows, but learn I did. Now I have talented GRPs who are a better fit for me, size wise, but still have the gaits to be competitive. My horses are always shod/trimmed on time, have their manes pulled and their tails banged. I take pride in their looking good and I don’t want to have to rush to get them ready before a show or clinic. They also wear blankets in the winter and fly sheets in the summer to keep them comfortable.
  • I’m protective of the comfort of my horses. I want them bedded deep enough so that they don’t have to lay down in wet shavings or get hock sores from laying on the mats. I work them in polo wraps or woof boots and bell boots to keep them from hurting themselves. I am picky about footing. I won’t ride over rocks or holes or anything else that might harm my horses. I can spot a lameness or NQR at 200’ at any gait. I’m even pretty good at seeing where the lameness is originating.
  • I clinic with the best trainers that I can afford, when I can afford it. I watch movies and read the books and magazines to further my dressage education whenever possible. I ride with the goal of improving myself and my horses with each ride. I use figures (yes, the dreaded circle that DQs are known for!) to help my horses learn to carry themselves and improve their natural way of going. Yes, I look serious while riding, but that’s because it’s work. It doesn't mean that I am not enjoying myself.

So I’ll say it again. I’m a Dressage Queen and proud of it. Are you?

Now where's my tiara?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ah, the internet...

Most people I know (well, horse people, at least) frequent horse sites while wasting time online. There is no better time waster than a good horse forum.
Of course, the not so good ones can be vastly entertaining as well, assuming that you can stay out of the fray when confronted by such epic wrongness on the internet. You know what they say about getting into an argument on the internet….

As for me, I’m a member of Chronicle of the Horse Forums, aka COTH, which can be filled with knowledgeable horse people who sometimes support each other or engage in massive fiery train wrecks, usually about natural horsemanship (Parelli is guaranteed to bring out some namecalling and the every present condemnation of “read for comprehension” comment) or the future of showing and why the old days were so much better than now and those youngn’s have no idea how bad it is now. On a good day, I learn something new or at least have a tidbit to mull over for a while.

I’m not a member of Ultimate Dressage (aka UDBB), however on a slow day, I like to lurk. Which basicly means that I sit back and watch the firey train wrecks happen –Rollkur, drawreins (razorblades in the hands of monkeys), modern dressage (Klassical is soooo much better! Ask the Spanish Riding School!), showing (Riders now are ONLY about the MONEY…They don’t care if they ruin horses to win!)- without the temptation or ability to jump in and add my two cents. That probably does wonders for my sanity…
Sure, there are threads asking for help with the SI or how to stop a young horse from falling out on a circle. The replies always include “Is your horse IFV”, “Check your saddle”, It’s ulcers/kissing spine” then more advice than one person can handle- calling all basic tenants and beliefs that the OP holds into question. At that point, if the OP (original poster, for those of you not in the know) chooses to do anything but make an offering at the alter of the ODG (either Original Dressage Gods or Old Dead Guys, depending on your point of view), it starts to morph into the runaway train loaded with dynamite. Time to sit back and enjoy the trainwreck.

For those brave enough to post an actual picture… Watch out. Middle aged keyboard jockeys will jump down your throat as soon as they spot anything incorrect. Young warmblood losing balance? “The horrors, he’s neurologic!”  Rider’s hands get wide? “STOP THE ROLLKUR!” Horse displays any naughtyness or disobedience? “You’re training is ruining that animal! You should ride with [insert some classical fav here]. I do, now we only ride with sunshine and happiness” And heaven help you is your horse EVER falls behind the vertical or you just want to hear good things.

Case in point:
This thread is basically for members to post updates about their 6 year olds; where they are in training, small brags, big setbacks, whathaveyou. Not even one page into it, a cat-fight starts because someone wants to ‘just point out a few things’ to another poster. Oy vey. Hand basket of crazy, am I right?